Grouse, partridge seasons open Sept. 9

North Dakota’s popular hunting seasons for grouse and partridge will open Sept. 9.

State Game and Fish Department upland game biologist R.J. Gross says hunters will likely see fewer sharptails and Huns compared to last year, while ruffed grouse numbers are up from 2016.

Hot, dry early summer weather likely reduced grouse production in many areas due to poor habitat conditions and low insect production, according to Gross.

“Numbers in the northeast show up a little better than other areas,” Gross said. “But yet, there will be localized areas with good chick survival in most parts of the state.”

Huns respond better to drought conditions and do better in dry years compared to sharptails.

“Huns have generally been a bonus bird the past handful of years,” Gross said. “Hunters will still find pockets of decent hunting, but it may require more time in the field.”

Ruffed grouse spring drumming counts were up in the Turtle Mountains, and good numbers of broods were reported in the Pembina Hills.

Shooting hours for the upcoming season are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Sharptails, ruffed grouse and Huns each have a daily limit of three and a possession limit of 12.

Hunters, regardless of age, must have a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate and general game and habitat license. In addition, hunters age 16 and older need a small game license.

For further season information and regulations, hunters should consult the North Dakota 2017-18 Small Game Hunting Guide.

Swan licenses remain available

North Dakota’s swan lottery has been held and 522 licenses remain. Only hunters who do not have a swan license for the 2017 season can apply, as regulations limit hunters to one license per year.

Beginning Sept. 6, all remaining licenses will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Resident and nonresident hunters must apply online at the State Game and Fish Department website, The license fee is $10 for residents and $30 for nonresidents.

The statewide tundra swan hunting season is Sep. 30 through Dec. 31.

Five bighorn sheep licenses allocated

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is allocating five bighorn sheep licenses for the 2017 hunting season, three fewer than 2016.

Two licenses are available in Unit B3 and two in B4. Also, one license, as authorized under North Dakota Century Code, was auctioned in spring by the Midwest Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation, from which all proceeds are used to enhance bighorn sheep management in North Dakota.

The number of once-in-a-lifetime licenses allotted to hunters is based on data collected from the Department’s recently completed summer population survey. Results of the survey showed a total of 83 rams, or 21 fewer than 2016.

Brett Wiedmann, a big game management biologist in Dickinson, said the 20 percent decline in ram numbers is the result of an ongoing bacterial pneumonia outbreak that was first detected in 2014.

“In addition, 2016 had the lowest lamb recruitment on record so very few yearling rams were observed,” Wiedmann said. “Encouragingly, no adult animals within the herds that were exposed to disease in 2014 showed clinical signs of pneumonia, and the summer lamb count in those herds improved.”